Normally, my worst worry about Valentine’s Day is that I’ll get chocolates from somebody who doesn’t remember that I like milk, not dark chocolate.
But that’s not the real sweetness in today’s isolation: My life partner and I find ways to be together and apart within our shared home. We work, exercise and share meals with ongoing gratitude that we have each other, two pudgy tabbies, and one very old tabby grandma.
Friendships have deepened. A lot. The zoom chats, though hard on the eyes, make me remember to brush my hair. The conversations on any medium—online, on the phone, by text—have a staying power because they are so precious now.
In my novel, The Road Not Taken, there is a friendship between two women from different worlds. One woman guides the protagonist into living her life more fully after she has been widowed. Following this friendship, the undercurrent of their story, provides perfect models for friendships today as we change together: Be kind and generous. Have compassion for the tight box that many people live in.
Financially, romantically, socially, I am safe and warm. Not everybody is that lucky. The Chinese proverb is right: Crisis is a two-part figure, one part Danger and the other Opportunity. COVID is the Danger. But there is great Opportunity in the depth of feeling I have found for all living things.
“Great love” includes friends, the earth’s animals, and the people who treat the sick and dying. I love them. I wish I could send them chocolates, every person in the pandemic trenches. It isn’t a romantic dinner, with maybe a little slap and tickle back at home, but it’s a powerful love for my fellow creatures.
So happy Valentine’s—and Galentine’s—Days. May your hearts stay open even as our doors stay closed!